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Massage Chairs buying guide

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Massage Chairs Guide - An Introduction

In the past, a home massage chair was considered a luxury. However, more and more people have come to realise that given the stress and complexity of modern living, as well as the benefits of using a massage chair, the home massage chair is a necessary health and well being investment.

Here is a list of some of the main reasons others have given for making such an investment.


Scheduling and keeping an appointment with a massage practitioner is difficult and often impossible given our busy schedules. A massage therapy chair at home is convenient and offers a sensible and beneficial option.

Some modern massager chairs on the market feel so similar to the human touch that benefits are an easily comparable second, if not a match, to a session with a massage practitioner.

Those with health problems, or who have difficulty getting around find a human touch massage chair, or massage chair ht indispensable.

Finally, who would not prefer watching their favourite television show, movie or listening to their choice of music while sitting in their massage chair at home?

• Privacy

In order for massage to be ultimately beneficial, it is important for the recipient to be relaxed mentally and physically while receiving the massage.

There are those who feel inhibited about going to a massage practitioner while others simply prefer the privacy of their own home to enjoy a massage. A massaging chair in home can be a perfect solution for them.

• Health Benefits

Regular massage is helpful not only physically but psychologically as well.

Some massage chairs can address specific problem areas such as lower back pain or upper back pain, or specific conditions such as migraine headaches, arthritis, tension, chronic fatigue, or insomnia.

A body massage chair used regularly improves circulation and absorption of nutrients, increases the lymphatic flow and helps release toxins from the body.

A health massage chair reduces tension and encourages total relaxation.

Regular use of a massage chair increases the body’s ‘feel good’ chemicals known as endorphins. This in turn reduces pain and anxiety and can even speed recovery after an illness.

How this guide can make your massage chair shopping easier

What you will find in the ‘Types and Popular Features’ section

Massage chairs can be categorized by a wide range of criteria, such as by specific design or setting use, or by one or more of multiple features that they may offer from the style of massage, to colour of the chair or upholstery type, to brand or brand series. Here is a short list example of some of those feature-classified types:

Heat massage chair,
Electric massage chair
Reclining massage chair
Shiatsu massage chair
ijoy massage chair
ijoy 100 massage chair
ijoy 130 massage chair
Swedish massage chair
Back massage chair
massage chair black
Seated massage chair
Panasonic massage chair
Robotic massage chair
Osim massage chair
Inada massage chair
Professional massage chair
Japanese massage chair
Sanyo massage chair
Omega massage chair
Premier massage chair
Shiatsu massage recliner chair
Zero gravity massage chair
Adjustable massage chair

This can make it quite confusing for shoppers trying to define their ideal massage chair. Therefore, in the Types and Popular Features section of this guide you will find a simplification of types by specific use or appropriate setting for use, such as home, office, or professional use.

Basic types will be followed by a list of popular features and a brief explanation of those features available in various models of massage chairs.

How will this make shopping for your chair easier? First, using the Types and Popular Features section, select the setting for your chair.

• Is it for your home or your office?
• Do you want a massage chair you can take with you and use anywhere?
• Are you a massage practitioner looking for a portable massage chair for your business?

Next browse through the Popular Features section and make a list of all the features you are most interested in trying out.

What you will find in the ‘Buyer’s Tips’ section

Once you have identified the basic type of chair you are looking for, and made a list of the features you most desire, read through the Buyer’s Tips section. It will assist you with a bullet point list of additional and helpful criteria to keep in mind while shopping for your perfect massage chair.

Why not print out the Buyer’s Tip section to take with you along with your list of favourite features. That way you will not forget anything and will be more likely to make a massage chair purchase that you will be satisfied with for years to come.

What you will find in the ‘Best Buy/Price Range/Advise’ section

This section will round out everything you have learned from the previous sections. It will advise you of the price range for massage chairs as well as suggest some great buys available for each of the following categories.

• Cheap and soothing
• Inexpensive and beneficial
• Mid-range priced investment in better health
• Higher-priced, luxury, long-term investment

Finally, the great buy examples in this section will help you to come up with ideas for making wise trade-offs so that your final massage chair selection has as many of the features you want as possible for a price you can live with comfortably.

Types of Massage Chairs

Basic types by specific use or setting design

Massage chair cushion

A massage chair cushion is a type of cushion that can be placed on top of any chair and is a great, inexpensive temporary alternative to the more expensive massage chairs. This type of (massage chair) typically offers one massage type such as vibration, rolling or kneading. It also usually offers optional heat and comes with a remote control. Massage cushions usually offer
a few massage strength choices.

In this category, there are sub-types based on where they will be used.

This type is not an automated chair type but rather one that requires a masseuse.
It has been included here because when you make an online search using the term
massage chair this type of chair will also turn up in results. It is most often used by massage practitioners and tattoo artists.

The professional practitioner’s chair is often called the portable massage chair. Chair massages are offered in a variety of settings from homes and offices to airport terminals, convention centres, and hotel lobbies.

It is popular among professional massage practitioners and tattoo artists because it is easy to transport and set up. This type of chair is typically made of lightweight aluminium and weighs between 6.5 kg and 7.5 kg. It often comes with carrying case or a carrying trolley.

If you are a practitioner looking for a portable chair for your practice, it will be easier for you to conduct your search by brand name. Here is a list of some of the most trusted brand names on this site or any other.

  • Health Systems UK
  • Medisana
  • Puma
  • Therapy2000

Home massage chair

This type is a single unit chair that may or may not come with a footrest and may or may not recline. They may or may not offer one or more styles of massage. These massage chairs may be remote controlled, manual or joystick controlled. Some offer heat and adjustment choices and some do not. Strength of massage settings may or may not be offered as well. What all these variations of home massage chairs have in common is that they are designed specifically for the home.

• Massage chair with ottoman

A massage chair with an ottoman is exactly what it sounds like, two separate pieces, a chair, and an ottoman. Both pieces typically offer a massage function with adjustment capabilities for each piece. Heat and remote control are available in some but not all models. Styles of massage vary by chair model.

Office massage chair

This chair is primarily an office chair but also offers massage options. These options may include heat as well as one or more of a variety of techniques such as rolling, vibration, or kneading. There are varieties of luxury massage office chairs available, which offer everything that the most expensive home use massage chairs do.

If you are looking for a home massage chair, a home massage chair with ottoman, massage chair cushion, or an office massage chair, making a list of the features you desire most in a massage chair will help. The following list of features will help you make an informed selection of favourite features.


Popular features

The features available in the category of massage chairs have grown complex and numerous. This section will list, in alphabetical order, and explain some of the most popular features that are available. The list will assist you in making a personal list of the specific features that you want most.


This feature can be associated with reclining massage chairs that offer a choice of angle tilt adjustment options. It can also refer to massage chairs that have a body scan or a sensor scanning capability. These built in sensors first identify your body’s specific pressure points and then the chair adjusts itself to provide a more personalized massage based on the information the sensors collected. The term adjustable can also refer to adjustments that can be made on the pre-set programs of some massage chair models.

Arm air bags

An arm air bag feature incorporates air bags into a massage chair at the arm area. This feature provides air compression massage to the arms by inflating with air. These arm air bags are often included as part of an auto program or may be used as an individual massage selection.

Automatic programs

Many massage chairs come with automatic programs or pre-set programs where you simply make a selection and press a button. Some offer auto programs that allow you to make certain option choices such as, time or duration, technique, body area selection, such as neck, shoulders, upper back, waist, lower back, buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Some massage chairs offer auto programs for arms as well.

Body scanning

Body scanning also called sensor scanning is a feature that uses sensors to define where your body’s pressure points are located based on your size. The chair then adjusts itself and adapts the massage function to suit your body.

Footrest extension

The footrest extension may be the most important feature of all for anyone who is tall. It allows the footrest of the chair to extend from 7.62 cm to 12.7 cm further than the average chair. This can make all the difference in finding a chair that properly fits your body.

Heat therapy

Heat is one of the top three preferred features in a massage chair. Heat is soothing relief and produces beneficial results for a variety of specific conditions. Heat can maximize the benefits of a good massage.
Some massage chairs have heat elements that are capable of heating only one area at a time while others can offer heat to multiple areas at once.

Hip air bags

A hip air bag feature incorporates air bags into a massage recliner at the hip area. It provides air compression massage to the hips by inflating with air. These air bags are often included as part of an auto program or may be used as an individual massage selection.

Manual or Power Assisted Recline

Manual recline refers to the use of a lever activated hydraulic cylinder that raises the footrest or chair back. Manual recline chairs typically require the user to apply pressure to the footrest and press back into the chair in order to lower it back to its original position.

Power assisted recline is an option that can make a huge difference for users who have limited mobility or difficulty stretching to use a manual lever that is usually located on the side of the chair. Most massage chairs that are in the mid-range price category offer power assisted recline at the push of a button.

Massage techniques

Air massage

An air massage utilizes air pressure to massage various areas of the body that can include the feet, calves, thighs, hips, arms, and hands. Air pressure massage is accomplished by the inflation of air bags that are incorporated into the chair.

If your arms, legs, or hips are a specific problem area for you, then you may want to try a massage chair that offers this feature.

Combo Kneading, Tapping, and Rolling

Many massage chairs offer kneading, tapping and rolling as individual selections, but some offer a selection that synchronizes all three techniques. This feature is a favourite of those who are extremely active in sports or exercise.

Finger Press Massage

A wonderful tension release, the finger press massage uses rollers to apply pressure up and down your spine. This technique can actually align your spine by adjusting cervical discs. Massage chairs with this feature typically offer three to five different width adjustment options.

Foot Massage

This feature of recliner massage chair models utilise an air system and reflexology nodes to massage the feet.

Hawaiian massage

Hawaiian massage utilizes a side-to-side, or swaying motion for reducing tension in back muscles gently. It is a very soothing feature that is available in some massage chair models.

Kneading Massage

This type of massage chair option uses rollers that move sideways across the back to simulate a squeezing motion. In many reclining massage chair models, you can adjust the kneading movement between gentle and firm.

Shiatsu massage

This massage technique utilises a combination of patting, pressing of acupressure points, rolling, rotating, and sweeping motions. It is the number one favourite for releasing tension.

Swedish massage

This type of massage chair function combines long gliding strokes with kneading movements. It is especially beneficial to those seeking to improve their circulation.

Remote Controlled

A remote control allows you to make massage option selections and chair adjustments while comfortably seated all the way back in the chair.

Sensor scanning

This feature is also called body scanning. Please see body scanning above.

Side arm control selection

Side arm control selection is located on the right arm side of the chair. It uses buttons with which to make auto program or other option selections.

Best Buys/Price Range/Advice

The price range for a massage chair is vast. Prices begin cheap at only £19.00 for the Homedics Mp3 Cushion 5 Motor Massage Chair or £23.00 for the Sensa Massage Office Chair. Prices extend up to £1,000 for an inexpensive massage chair model.

The mid-priced massage chair offers more or better features and/or a higher quality of construction and materials. Mid-range prices run between £1,500 and £3,000. The top price models are nearly as good as having a live masseuse come to your home on demand, and you can expect prices to begin at about £3,500 and go upwards of £5,000 for such massage chairs.

However, with warranty, time, and use considerations, this is sometimes the best deal, especially if you are making a long term investment in your health rather than purchasing a little comfort for the short term.

Here are some great buy examples from each of four price categories that will help you to understand the features and differences each category offers. Looking at some specific models from each price category will help you to reconcile the desired features you have listed, from the Types and Popular Features section, with any price or budget stipulations you may have.

Cheap and soothing

Zen Massage Chair for £100.00 features:

Leather upholstery
Pleated backrest detailing
Padded headrest
Padded armrests
A variety of massage selections
Gas lift seat height adjustment
Ergonomically designed lumbar support
Generous Seat 52 cm wide x 50 cm deep
Back 52 cm wide x 72 cm high
A 1 year warranty

Inexpensive and beneficial

• Human Touch iJoy 100 Massage Chair for £599.00 features:

Human Touch Technology that simulates a professional masseuse’s hands
4 massage techniques – kneading/compression/percussion/ rolling
A variety of automatic program massage sessions that last 15 minutes each
Endorsement by the American College of Chiropractic Orthopaedists
Modern styling that blends with a wide variety of decors

Mid-range priced investment in your health

• Human Touch HTT-125 for £1,599.00 features:

Leather upholstery
Sensors to intuit your body shape and adapt massage functions accordingly
A gentle full-body stretching function
A hand-held console that controls all functions
4 different massage techniques
Automatic, pre-set massage sessions
Deep calf massage
Foot massage
Pedestal style platform
Choice of brown, black, or cream colours
Modern styling

• Verona Massage Chair for £2,621.00 features:

Infra-red/acu-point scanning and quad rollers to identify your body’s stress points
Personally tailored massage based on the data acquired from the scan
Selection options such as a specific target area or choice 9 pre-set programs
Built in MP3 player with hi-fi earphones
Colour LCD remote control
Choice of manual massage such as finger press, kneading, tapping, or a combination of all
Calf and thigh massage with air vibration
Electrically adjustable angle of the calf and back the latter includes the ability to adjust to be nearly flat

Higher-priced, luxury, long term investment

• Sanyo DR7700 Massage Chair for £4,875.00 features:

4 Full-Body Sensor automatic courses
Zero Gravity recline
Physical shape sensor that adjusts rollers to body shape
Galvanic Skin Response technology to detect tension and stiffness in your body and adjusts the massage to those findings
Manual selection of specific target areas of the body
Back and seat airbags for air pressure massage of those areas
Footrest extension lengthens up to an additional 12.7 cm
GK roller technology that imitates a grasping and kneading shoulder massage by utilising a jointed head that extends outward from above
Buttocks, lower leg, calf, and foot massage
5 stage backbone stretching
Optional heat selection

Popular Brands

Tips to consider before you buy a Massage Chair

Here is a helpful list of criteria to consider when shopping for a massage chair:

  • Are you making a long-term investment in your health, or short-term investment in comfort?
  • Where will you put the massage chair?
  • Be sure to measure both the space available in the room for the massage chair when it is fully reclined and footrest extended.
  • Check the maximum weight capacity that the massage chair’s frame can sustain and be sure that your weight falls under that.
  • Select upholstery material for comfort and durability.
  • The comfort of the material matters as the massage will be less helpful if the material you are sitting on is uncomfortable.
  • Leather has excellent wear-resistance but its durability decreases with the use of heat or deep tissue massage technique options. Leather upholstery will require regular conditioning.
  •  Synthetic leather is a great alternative for heat therapy models, and it is easier to clean as well as extremely durable for massage chairs. Vinyl is another excellent choice for heat and durability.
  • Fabric options can be equally as durable and beautiful but they are more difficult to clean than synthetic leather or vinyl.
  • Colour and Style
  • A wide variety of massage chair styles and colours are available. If you are not sure it will match your décor, colour swatches may be available. Another option is to select a coordinating neutral colour.
  •  Aim to select a massage chair style that blends rather than becomes the centre of attention in the room unless selecting a remarkable style and colour that you can build the décor of your room around.
  • Warranty
  •  A cheap to inexpensive massage chair model typically comes with at least a one-year warranty and sometimes longer. If not, you have to wonder why not.
  • Mid-range priced to high-priced massage chairs typically come with a 5 to 10 year warranty.
  • Make sure the warranty covers labour, electrical, and structural elements.
  • Read the fine print.

Buying Guide to Massage Chairs
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